Does Adderall Cause Headaches?

Yes, Adderall can cause both regular headaches and migraines for anyone taking it. Stimulants, such as Adderall and Vyvanse, have a  history of leading to headaches as well as other possible side effects including irritability, elevated heart rate, anxiety, and dizziness. 

Headaches are one of the more common side effects you might experience, especially due to the extensive list of factors that can contribute to a headache.

Why Adderall Causes Headaches

Adderall can cause a headache in a few different ways.

As a stimulant, Adderall activates the central nervous system to produce additional neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The flooding of chemicals into the brain activates the fight-or-flight response in the sympathetic nervous system. As a result, your brain increases cardiac output, like heart rate and blood pressure, which can cause headaches.

Stimulants are also appetite suppressants due to their effects on dopamine. When your dopamine levels are increased, you have less motivation to eat. Not eating can then lead to low blood sugar, a common cause of headaches.

Dehydration is another potential reason you might experience Adderall headaches. If you’re focused on what you’re doing, you may not think to drink water regularly throughout the day. Or, sweating from exercise or cardiac symptoms that Adderall contributes to can deplete your hydration levels more quickly than normal, leading to headaches.

Generally, Adderall headaches are a result of the chemical changes that the stimulant causes. An increase in crucial neurotransmitters can lead to habits or stimulative effects on the body that can contribute to headaches. However, a decrease in chemical levels can also lead to headaches.

Adderall Withdrawal Headaches

Taking Adderall can give you a headache, but so can not taking it. If you’ve been using Adderall in high doses or for an extended period of time, you may experience short-term Adderall crashes as well as withdrawal when you stop taking it.

Adderall crashes are caused by the drug leaving your system. When this happens too suddenly, or your dose is high, your neurotransmitter levels go out of balance temporarily until your next dose. Users with high metabolisms are more prone to Adderall crashes due to the sharp decrease in blood concentrations of the drug, which leads to stronger reactions.

Adderall withdrawal is similar to a crash, but the effects occur over a period of time when you discontinue use. Withdrawal is worse when you take the drug in higher doses or for longer because your brain gets used to having an increase in the production of essential neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. When you stop taking it, your brain has to adjust to the amount of each chemical you produce naturally.

A dopamine and norepinephrine imbalance can cause headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and ADHD symptoms. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the headaches that accompany stimulant use.

Tips For Managing Adderall Headaches

Not everyone who uses Adderall will have a headache, but every user should know how to manage one.

The significance of Adderall’s effects depends heavily on the dose you’re taking. Higher doses of Adderall cause more extreme stimulative effects, which generate stronger effects on blood pressure and heart rate. They also mean that the Adderall crash or withdrawals will be worse. 

You can minimize the severity of your headaches by working with your treating clinician to find the minimum therapeutic dose and taking your medication as recommended. You can also consider taking extended-release Adderall to maintain more consistent chemical levels throughout the day so that the changes during the onset and when the Adderall wears off are less intense.

Remembering to eat and drink can also help you to avoid headaches by ensuring the rest of your body’s needs are met so that it can more effectively manage the effects of Adderall.

In most cases, Adderall headaches will be mild and go away on their own. If they don’t, drugs like acetaminophen can be used to treat the symptoms so that you can continue taking Adderall for your ADHD symptoms.

Take The Headache Out of ADHD Treatment With Done

There’s no guarantee that you can avoid Adderall headaches. You may be predisposed to them due to other health issues, or your required therapeutic dose may cause stronger side effects that are harder to cope with.

For the best chance at a pain-free medication treatment for your ADHD, you need expert medication management.

Done’s team of licensed clinicians and ADHD specialists can help create the right treatment plan for your symptoms. You’ll meet with a doctor who will evaluate your symptoms, prescribe medication (if necessary), and monitor your ongoing care to ensure that treatment is working for you. This makes it easy to monitor for Adderall headaches and take steps to address them with your care team.

Get started today with a free 1-minute assessment.